Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has
challenged governments to invest more resources in public health nursing so as
to achieve aspirations of high-quality healthcare provision for all.
She said public health nursing is central to the functioning of any health system and should therefore be adequately resourced in terms of manpower, equipment and continuous capacity building.
“It will certainly benefit all our healthcare systems if we invest in building a strong cadre of public health nurses, through rigorous training, specialization and practice to enhance their skills,” the First Lady said.
The First Lady who spoke when she presided over the official opening of the 5th Global Network for Public Health Nursing (GNPHN) Conference at a Nairobi hotel expressed gratitude that the country has intensified the training, development and deployment of public nurses.
“In my work and visits to health centres across Kenya, I have witnessed the role of nurses and community health workers as key influencers in the health and wellbeing of patients, communities and the populations they serve,” she said.
The public nursing conference whose theme is “Public health nurses achieving sustainable development goals (SDG) 3-Good health and wellbeing,” is being held in Africa for the first time.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta called on the conference participants, who are drawn from across the world, to work together on finding solutions to not only the identified challenges facing the public nursing profession but the entire public health sector.
“The evolving role of public health nursing will be a conversation that you will be considering over the next three days, because we have to avert preventable diseases, provide better care and improve the quality of life of our people, by focusing on community health promotion and prevention,” she said.
She noted that a strong health system requires a competent and caring workforce pointing out that globally, nurses provide over 80% of healthcare services.
“I have seen your hard work, your combined talents and dedication. You are the first point of contact with the community – sometimes braving very challenging conditions,” she added.
While commending the First Lady for being a role model in public health provision through her Beyond Zero Initiative, Education CS Prof George Magoha said he will continue working closely with his health counterpart to ensure the country grows its nursing workforce to meet internationally set standards.
The cabinet secretary further said the government will ensure the highly trained Kenyan nurses are retained in the country by taming the emigration of local nurses into other countries.
“We need to train more nurses, employ them, retain them and empower them,” Prof Magoha said.
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said Kenya’s efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) can only be realized through skilled and motivated medical staff.
She pointed out that global health challenges require global partnerships and expressed optimism that the three-day conference will come up with resolutions that will help resolve some of the challenges facing the public health sector especially nursing services.
Other speakers included University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof Peter Mbithi and the Chairman of the Global Network for Public Health Nursing Prof Linda Smith among others.